I imagine it sounds a little different to everyone but anyone that’s tried to edit their own writing will have heard it in some form. In my head the voice says ‘no really, that bit is just fine’. Sure enough, every time I ask someone to test read my work, those are the first bits to get picked out. They always end up having to be changed or removed. When my Writing lecturer started to talk about the voice in a lecture on editing, it made me nod and smile because I knew the truth of it from my own experience. Janice Hardy‘s, Killer Instincts: Trusting Your Writer’s Compass brings the message home.
When I started, I was barley even aware of the voice. I thought it was simply a coincidence that my readers picked out the same bits that I was tripping over. These days I’m getting better at hearing it but I have to listen carefully. It’s an important part of the editing process and I enjoy learning to hear that little voice.
Having others read my work helps me to discover that voice because they always pick up the same bits that the voice does. Writing groups, fellow students, friends and family all get co-opted into this task. I try to remember not to ask for too much and to show my gratitude for their input into the work. Janice also writes about these people and, perhaps more importantly, how to find some in You’ve Got to Have Friends: Crit Groups Beta Readers.
Use the force. Listen to the voice.